U.K. Stocks Fall From Five-Month High; BP, Weir Group Retreat
The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index slid from a five-month high as investors awaited the outcome of three days of meetings between Greece and its private creditors.
BP Plc (BP/) led a selloff in energy companies as crude oil tumbled in New York. Petrofac (PFC) Ltd. dropped 4.3 percent as JPMorgan Chase & Co. downgraded the oil and gas producer. Weir Group Plc (WEIR) lost 6 percent, following a selloff in U.S.-based Gardner Denver Inc.
The FTSE 100 declined 12.6, or 0.2 percent, to 5,728.55 at the close in London after swinging between gains losses today as futures contracts expired. The gauge still gained 1.6 percent this week as European borrowing costs fell at debt auctions. The FTSE All-Share Index retreated 0.2 percent today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index dropped 1 percent.
“The FTSE finished lower today after edging higher all week,” said Chris Beauchamp, a market analyst at IG Index. “Rumors of a Greek debt deal have stalked investors all week and have been back with a vengeance today.”
Greece’s government and its private creditors met for a third day to seek agreement on a debt swap. Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said Greek officials held “long and substantial” discussions with Institute of International Finance Managing Director Charles Dallara yesterday.
Euro-area officials and the nation’s private bondholders agreed in October to implement a 50 percent cut to the face value of Greek debt by voluntarily exchanging outstanding bonds for new securities, with the goal of reducing Greece’s borrowings to 120 percent of gross domestic product by 2020.
The accord with bondholders is key to a second financing package for the cash-strapped country, which faces a 14.5 billion-euro ($18.7 billion) bond payment on March 20.
BP led energy companies lower as crude oil dropped below $100 a barrel in New York as data showed Chinese manufacturing contracted for a third month and sales of previously owned U.S. homes grew less than economists had predicted.
BP, Europe’s second-largest oil company, declined 3.1 percent to 467.45 pence. BG Group Plc (BG/) slid 2.2 percent to 1,457 pence, while larger rival Royal Dutch Shell Group Plc lost 1.3 percent to 2,253.5 pence.
Petrofac, Weir Group
Petrofac paced declining shares, sliding 4.3 percent to 1,440 pence as JPMorgan lowered its recommendation for the shares to “neutral” from “overweight.”
Weir Group sank 6 percent to 1,954 pence, pacing a selloff in rival Gardner Denver which tumbled 5.1 percent in U.S. trading yesterday. Weir fell as the Financial Times reported that the marginal cost of production for some U.S. shale gas was close to zero.
Vodafone Group Plc (VOD) added 1.5 percent to 177.05 pence, limiting declines on the FTSE 100 after India’s Supreme Court ruled the company isn’t liable to pay $2 billion in tax related to its purchase of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.’s wireless operations in 2007. That judgment reversed a previous ruing.
Enterprise Inns Plc (ETI) surged 13 percent to 35.5 pence for its fourth day of gains. Oriel Securities Ltd. said after meeting with the company that the shares have “significant upside,” if trading turns positive and it refinances its bank facility.
HMV Group Plc almost tripled to 7.15 pence after the CD and DVD retailer obtained a lifeline as banks waived an imminent covenant test and eased the terms of others. The company said it should be able to cut net debt by about 50 percent over the next three years.
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